• "The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home" by Arlie Hochschild - Discusses the topic of the home life of families with two working parents and small children. This is very close to my heart, so I read the book avidly. It's pretty interesting overall, though falls short of great due to a somewhat boring last third and being outdated. It was written in the 1980s and I'd be very curious to read a modern account; since (by the author's own admission) this whole aspect of society is undergoing rapid change, I imagine the situation may be somewhat different 30 years later.
  • "Nobody's Fool" by Richard Russo - A fictional account of the lives of several inhabitants of a small town in a decaying part of up-state New York, in the 1980s. Very good writing, even though there's not a single likable character in the whole book! The ambiance resembles "Empire Falls" overall - an enjoyable read.
  • "The Everything American Government Book" by Nick Ragone - pretty good overview of how the government in the US works, from federal to state to local. It goes breadth-first rather to depth, mostly serving as an extended introduction to a wide range of topics.
  • "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch - an ambitious sweep across biology, artificial intelligence, history of science, politics and quantum mechanics with an optimistic flavor. "Infinity" refers to the possibilities opened by the current open, scientific society. While the idea of the book is enticing and some parts in it are very interesting, some other parts are outright weird and very loosely related to the main theme. Specifically, from one of the fathers of quantum computing I would expect a better explanation of the many-world interpretation.
  • "1984" by George Orwell - technically a re-read, but since I read this book before 2003 I never really wrote a review. I liked this book, overall. It's mostly fun to read, if you ignore all the parts that make no sense. Still, it's thought provoking in the positive sense and well worth a read if you've never read similar negative Utopias before. Studying a bit of history first would help though, since I imagine most young people these days (thankfully!) aren't even aware of the ideology dramatized in the book.
  • "Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life" by Annette Lareau - a sociological study of 3rd grade students and their families, focusing on the differences between social classes (middle class, working class, poor) and race; conducted in the mid 1990s. Pretty interesting account of the different life experiences of kids and parents; I found some accounts of middle-class kids troubling (over-scheduling), and accounts of poor-class kids scary in a different way (formidable financial struggles).
  • "The Working Dad's Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home" by Scott Behson - a book by the author of the Fathers, Work and Family blog, focusing on work-life balance for fathers who want to spend as much time as possible with family. A pretty good book overall, though a bit too self-help-y. I think the main encouragement coming from reading it is the realization that this is a common issue quite a few men are facing this problem nowadays.
  • "The Plague" by Albert Camus - Fictional account about an outbreak of bubonic plague in a French city in coastal Algiers in the 1930s. A bit too philosophical and scattered to my taste. Not a bad read, but far from great.
  • "Essentials of Programming Languages" by D. Friedman and M. Wand - full review.
  • "Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises" by Timothy Geithner - an auto-biographic account of the former secretary of treasury and president of the NY Fed, describing his career in public service with a strong focus on the 2007-2009 financial crisis. A really excellent book - strikingly honest and well balanced. I found it very inspiring w.r.t. facing adversity and making hard decisions even if they can't be popular. Highly recommended.
  • "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly - The book upon which the movie is based. I was surprised at how different the book is - it's a heavily researched biography, non-fictional. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense how they condensed the story into the movie, since such books don't really make for great Hollywood hits as-is (maybe documentaries). Regardless, both the book and the movie are great, in my opinion. Very cool example of cold, hard economics at work - how practical needs and competition with external powers made gentle but real cracks in the segregational craze of the South - especially in Virginia, which was one of the most ardent strongholds of segregation well into the second half of the 20th century.
  • "The Forgotten Man" by Amity Shlaes - a history of the great depression and the New Deal, up until the middle of WWII. I was hoping to find some more economic insights in this book about why the great depression lasted so long, whether the New Deal made it better or worse, and what ultimately ended it. While the book is interesting and easy to read, I ended up being disappointed in these hopes since I didn't find much coherent explanation here. The author sort-of hints at possible causes and effects (from a conservative economic point of view) but doesn't really develop these thoughts into anything concrete. It's still not a bad book as a history of the USA in the 1930s, but I'll have to find some other source for economic insights.
  • "Work Rules" by Laszlo Bock - Laszlo was Google's head of people operations (a.k.a. HR) for many years, and in this book he tells about the Google culture and approach to hiring, employee development and management. It's a pretty good book, and a fairly accurate description of how this aspect of Google ticks.
  • "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely - a very good and entertaining book exploring the irrational nature of human beings. The author describes his research in behavioral psychology, featuring many experiments that probe how people behave in various scenarios; these experiments unearth many instances of "irrational" behavior in the sense that people don't strictly act by maximizing their utility.
  • "Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri - a collection of short stories about Indian immigrants (or children thereof) in the USA; a couple of the stories describe life in Calcutta. In general, all people in the book come from the Calcutta area, and in the US usually live in the New England area. Very good writing - each story, even if very short, is immediately captivating - I'd be happy to read a full novel based on each one. Very interesting glimpse into the lives of Americans of Indian origin and their view on the US society and way of life.

Re-reads:

  • "Naked Economics" by Charles Wheelan

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